Arsenal (1) 2 Newcastle United (0) 0
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Monday, 1st April 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Ramsey, Guendouzi; Kolašinac, Özil, Iwobi; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Suárez, Jenkinson, Nketiah.
Scorers: Ramsey, Lacazette
Yellow Cards: Monreal, Kolašinac
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Attendance: circa 60,000
Great to have the Premiership back, and it’s even better to have our first match after the enforced international break here at The Emirates against Newcastle United. A good crowd with a buoyant atmosphere makes for a crackle in the air and a desire for the right result which should take us to third place in the table if everything goes the right way, of course.
Sure enough, right from the kick-off our intent was there for all to see. After just thirteen minutes, Aaron Ramsey’s goal was disallowed for a foul by Sokratis on Florian Lejeune; it has to be said that the Newcastle man didn’t even look like he was going to get close to getting the ball despite the foul. A bit harsh really, but all it did was harden our resolve to win the match. It was now becoming obvious that not only did we dominate this period of the match, we constantly and successfully pinned the Magpies back in their own half. Of course, on the half hour our skilled play and domination paid off. The movement started and finished with Aaron Ramsey; he flicked a clever ball over to Alexandre Lacazette with the outside of his right foot, and almost immediately received it back and elegantly swept it home past a nonplussed Martin Dúbravka for the first goal of the night. Although the visitors did come back into the match for the last quarter of an hour of the first half, it was Arsenal’s half from the very moment Anthony Taylor’s signal started the match to forty-five minutes later when the same whistle brought proceedings to a close.
Could the second half be any better for the Magpies? Not really. To be fair, although they did have some moments where it did look as if they could threaten our defence, in reality their general play was both flaccid and tiresome. It was becoming fairly obvious that Newcastle United decided to implement Plan B; basically, if we can’t get through Arsenal’s defence, and we are unable to adjust our system accordingly, then let’s stop them playing their brand of football instead. And that, in a nutshell, was what happened here in North London tonight. Arsenal then did, under Mr. Emery, what Arsenal does best, which is continue to play their own style of football and just simply wear Newcastle down. We did start to look rather frustrated, so it became a case of fresh legs and fresh ideas. In the space of just eight minutes, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaced Alex Iwobi, and Mohamed Elneny took the place of our goalscorer, Aaron Ramsey. Now the sparks started to fly, with the movement from midfield becoming crisper, the shots on the visitors’ goal more urgent.
Sure enough, we got the second goal that our play deserved. Seventeen minutes from time, Alexandre Lacazette got the ball to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who in turn headed it back, and Alexandre Lacazette cleverly lobbed the ball over Martin Dúbravka into the net for a well-taken goal. Our third and final substitute came a couple of minutes later when Henrikh Mkhitaryan replaced a tired Mesut Özil, and almost immediately we were off again. If the match had carried on another five minutes, we could have got a third, but it was not to be, and two-nil was the score of the night.
This is great stuff. Who would have thought it a few months ago? Ten home Premiership matches in a row undefeated, and after tonight’s win, we have simply leapfrogged Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur into third place in the Premiership. So many good things came from tonight’s match; the resolve of the defence, the sharpness of the attack, and hey, doesn’t Aaron Ramsey get better with every game? This is our only sadness, that our little Welsh wizard is to leave us in the summer. Let’s hope beyond hope that out there in the wild blue yonder there is a tailor made replacement for him. He’s out there somewhere! Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.